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  Oct 2015 Cassie Stoddard
I keep telling myself that if I lay here long enough something's gonna swallow me and it's not because my heads been somewhere else lately it's because I sleep on the floor. Even when I don't. I sleep on the floor. The mattress has holes because mattresses get holes sometimes when you don't have blankets to cover them and you're too cold to put the cigarette out on anything other than yourself or what you have to sleep on now. Last year I'd spend every day in bed with a little bag full of drugs and a map to the bathtub just in case I forget what I took two seconds ago because I think it happened yesterday and I take more. And then I'm shaking, not because I'm cold this time. I'm seizing and nobody is home because everybody leaves me for preachers or church or a campfire or someone prettier. This part is foggy. I remember again a bathtub, an empty hotel bathtub and my mother and I say mama did you leave the door open on purpose and she says I went to church. She went to church. She went to church. Bathtub. I sleep there. Even though we are in a hotel I sleep in the bathtub because I like the way my anxiety sounds when it echoes. I like to hear it. Play it back. Memory. Back to the only house I've ever lived in alone.  I'm seizing. I stop. I hear you. I somehow forget that it's 4 in the morning. It's my birthday now, nobody knows but it's my birthday now, teen years behind me but still a teen year drug addiction and you tell me to look out the window so I do. And the sky's on fire. I don't fall asleep again for three days but the sky's on fire. And so am I. And so are you. And I don't want to go back to the place I go to when I see the faces but I put myself here. I push and push and push and then I act surprised when something falls off the edge. I'm alone now. Even when I'm not. I'm alone.
  Oct 2015 Cassie Stoddard
they're saying "all you do is drink and cry", "I think you're bad for everyone" and you're not saying anything and I'm saying I love you,
I ******* love you
And maybe I needed something to bring me back to reality maybe these bathtubs are always a little too deep for me but I fit so perfectly in small spaces because I learned when I was 14 that i was never gonna grow into a butterfly
but my aunt still calls me hers and I'd still flutter my eyelashes on yours while the earth turned to ash because I like things ending so softly
and you are a ******* miracle if I've ever seen one I want to sleep with you so badly, on a trampoline in the summer and I want to watch you do bad things and smile so sweetly at you and you'll know that I don't give a **** what you do as long as you're still loving me while you're doing it because baby we've got this one life and I've been loving you as long as I have known what love is and I know it's in the way you whisper and I know it's in the way you say you're my world and if the world stopped turning tomorrow we'd be the only things still moving with excitement you make me so nervous and calm and nervous and calm and deep breath you make me nervous I bet you'll make me nervous when we're older and I'm making you pancakes and I feel your eyes on me and I burn my fingers but you always kiss them better baby
you're an alleyway and the kitten that sleeps there
you're the rain on the windowpane and the water breaking the levee
I'm drowning in everything I have ever said to you so if I say one last thing one last thing,
while you're not saying anything,
I love you,
I ******* love you
  Oct 2015 Cassie Stoddard
you are eighteen and you're in love
with a boy who hates his birthday.
you don't know it yet,
but the world gets so much bigger than the back of his car.
you think he needs you to be happy and so does he
but both of you are wrong.
it'll take you almost a year to stop crying.
and then you don't talk for another three
and when you finally do,
he thinks he still knows you,
but your heart is heavier than it was then.
and you **** him because you're lonely
but it isn't the same.
neither of you can fake love.
at least he still makes you laugh.
you'll pretend it's enough
because at least he's a body.
at least you're not by yourself.
at least you're alive
and you're good at *******.
because bodies are distractions
from the things we hide inside them.
you have him inside you
and he wants to gut you of your ugly, your sad.
he scrambles for an excuse not to stay the night
and you laugh.
you know what this is and how it goes
and you both love someone else.
you swear you won't **** him again
but you do anyway because you're still lonely
and you like the way his hands fit around your neck.
you **** him because it's good for your art
and you get bored of your own hands on your body
and you're fine with letting him feel useful.
and you think about when you were sixteen
and how *** was supposed to be special
and it makes you cry
because you're not who you wanted to be.
it makes you cry, because the world got so much bigger
after you left the backseat of his car.
the world is so big and you don't know
how it ended up on your shoulders.
you would have died for him.
you have been ready to die for every person you have ever loved.
you have dreams where he dies
and you can't save him.
you have dreams where people die
and you can't save them
and you're the one who tied your hands.
your mangled heart and all its bleeding.
nobody asked you to die.
what good is all the love in your chest
if you don't leave any for yourself?

- m.f.
She lay in the bath, half asleep or half awake she wasn't sure, but the warm water floated gently around her infinitely. And just like the memories in her mind the water lapped aimlessly at nonexistent edges, spilling over, as if wandering off the edge of the world.  
She moved her hand carelessly to tuck an escaped strand of hair behind one ear as the water hugged the creases and crevasses of her body, all contained in a white bowl of serenity with the only disruption in her mind. She starred absentmindedly into the reflection in the water, a distorted and watery version of her blue eyes and curly hair, although somewhere inside her she knew she was beginning to feel more like her reflection every day. Her tear stained eyes stared back at her, the makeup smudges making her look skillfully tired and worn as though an artist himself had hand crafted her very face and in the process aged her 5 years. Inside she lulled away, wanting to melt into the water and never care about anything more than was necessary. The soft, happy, carefree side temporarily locked away, with a combination that even she did not yet know. Instead an emotional whirlwind of feelings, angry and powerful tunneled out, amplified by so much as a word or a thought. It was these moments that almost took her by surprise, as if it was someone else pushing these people out, in an attempt to avoid explaining. This was accompanied by feeling as though the world had given her everything to live for and everything to lose in one breath. Her ragged breathing had eventually softened to an emotional sigh of trembling lips as she reimbursed herself with more hot water. Feeling it burn on her leg she watched pink ovals appear,  stinging with regrets and pain, a constant wishing to go back and re do and apologies and pause and rewind and forward.
With a click of her heel she snapped the plug away, maybe in some attempt to also drain herself of her tribulations that had almost enveloped her entire bath. Watching the water disappear quickly, she was entranced at the waters escape, loving how eager it was to run away from her. And with this she felt relief, as though she could finally breathe.
Cassie Stoddard Aug 2015
I'm sitting on the ******* toilet crying and all I think is I that I need to write. Ihadve to write. I am not good enough .I havenever been good enough but in this space, when I write IAMGOOD. I am a not pretty or **** or desirable but I am an author and if that's not enough *******. You'll probably end up in my words anyway
  Jun 2015 Cassie Stoddard
Rewind to the first day you
Asked me to marry you.
It was raining, I wanted to kiss you.

December of our first year married;
You woke me up every morning
To watch the snow fall.
I rolled my eyes as you
Watched like a child.
You looked at me the same way.

Our first Christmas together was
About the same. It was
Only two years prior to our marriage
And you bought me a necklace.
I wore it every day
Until the day you left.
I hope the river likes jewelry
As much as I did.

Fast forward to our
Second spring together.
You pulled the car over on the side
Of the road to pick a wild flower.
We were already running late.
We always seemed to do
Everything too late.

Fourteen and a half days later
You told me you wanted me
To buy a nice dress for myself
And meet you at a restaurant.
I told you no,
I had work in the morning.
You drank every night
For a month after that.

You sang to my small unborn baby
Bump every night before bed.
Our next trip to see our baby's face
Did not go as planned.
You never could get me out of that
Black dress after her wake
And your eyes matched it
Perfectly every day after.

Fast forward to the day before you
Asked me to sign the divorce papers.
We made love.
I cried and said "this isn't working."
You said "I know."

I could hear you cry from the
Other side of the bed
And your hands felt miles away.
I remembered the first time
You touched me this way,
Long before your hands
Were calloused.
We were Hell bent on doing it
And I could hear the same lack
Of hesitation in your voice when
You said you had to leave.

Flash back to the first time I told you
I loved you.
I said it too soon. You said it back,
I didn't expect you to.

You left your ring on the
Coffee table our last night.
Suddenly I missed the rings
Of condensation marking the
Table every night and the
Clanking noise your ring
Finger made against the beer
Bottles after every fight.

I wish I could have been enough
To stop you from drinking.
I remember when you drove away.
"Turn around and beg me to stay.
Turn around and beg me to stay."
You didn't turn around and
I did not stay.

I passed the garden we were
Married in on my way to the court
House to sign the final papers.
A couple was leaving, newly wedded.
I find irony in that.

A few years later I passed you
On the street.
It was snowing, you had that same
Look in your eyes.
You smiled at me, a distant
"I'm sorry," smile.
I nodded, but I could not smile back.
You see, I never stopped loving you,
But I was never sorry for
Letting you leave.

I still find your cuff links buried
In my jewelry box some days.  
This is the day I watched the
Locket you gave me
Sink to the bottom of a river.
I think you could find my
Hope lying there, too.

Remember the time you kissed me
In the rain?
First slow and timid, then
Passionate as if it was the
Last time we would ever kiss again.
I apologized thirteen times that day
For things that had
Not happened yet.

I think a piece of me knew all along
I would have to let you leave.
The day I said good bye
The words burned my lips
Like acid exactly like they did that day.
I said "I'm sorry."

Seven hours staring at empty
Beer bottles as you
Slam them on the table.
In fact, it's been months since
You slammed anything but beers
And I think that is where
We started to fall apart.

Three years since you left and
I cannot bring myself to love another.
I bet she is beautiful and
Kind and loving and
I bet she does not cause you to
Drink until you cannot feel.
Three years later and I realize now that
I will love you until I die.
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